Back in the day, we had the occasional problem of some pipsqueak priest whose pointy finger exceeded the range of his intelligence with an “Oh, Father knows best!” Usually wearing the tall pontiff 18 size collar, frosty, waspy blue eyes glaring, adorned in the black suit, pursed up lips, tip toed for height, our father was giving us hell over a minute liturgical point at acolyte practice for tonight’s celebration of Our Lady of the Stop Sign. This florid guy would make us quiver and later snicker. . . Those were the days, an all male priesthood who could pray at bedside, “ God is male through and through and likely Episcopal. too!” The black suit always had cocktails and cigarettes with the our parents, the high collared Don Draper, of his day, that mad man.
Many years have passed and that old thing has long been packed under. Well, almost, I guess, as some of the Anglican off shots have kept replicas above ground and moving. But for us Episcopalians, this old dark suit is not to be found alive. I sorta miss ‘em.
But fear not! A new creation, a metastatic evolution has come forth! Sometime after the ordination of women all those years ago, off of the commission on ministry barge, a new creature came forth. And instead of being just priest, it is also deacon, bishop and lay, a full range of catholic orders! Not just are there males but females, straight and gay, many races who are of this new creation rolling down from the ark on to the level playing field of ministry. These new creatures are certainly not the old order, no father knows best here. They have the new look, updated, fresh and popular from television. They are nannies!!.
The ministry nannies want to take care of you. They demand to know the best for you and to embrace you with big hugs and cheek pecks; get in your space and make sure you know which and with what issue you should return the embrace in a knowing nod of political correctness. And also with you. . .
For delicious examples, I offer the following: One of my rector friends had called to welcome the new neighboring rector for a convivial lunch. But nanny returned the invitation by telling him why he should not have hired who he did as youth minister. How daring, darling! A priest nanny came to a lunch table at which a bishop was sitting, requesting a cozy nearness to the prince. Then in a snotty observation of the self evident sort, noted there was no other member of that gender at the table! Harumph! I might have agreed if I had known of what gender was being spoken. . . Then there is the school marm type nanny. As one of our most important of lay persons, the present President of the House of Deputies, has boldly lowered her reading glasses to proclaim authoritatively and instruct us on any number of items well beyond the traditional scope of the role's function to preside. How about nanny bishop, looking so bright in his perfectly tailored Wippell goods, who recently when asked about the role of retired clergy stated that they had best stay just that. On the shelf for out dated stuff, perhaps? Could church pantries use this product? But lest we forget the deacons, there is the one who recently lectured and instructed the rector in front of the vestry about “good” pastoral care, the subtext of deacon’s ordination vows, some of us are beginning to wonder?
And on pilgrimage we plod. It is another day for fun in the church, is it not? Embrace your local nanny!